Manch­ester mean street a gift for ac­tors

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

FOR a writer so fond of out­sized char­ac­ters, such as Cracker ’ s Ed­die Fitzger­ald and al­most ev­ery­body in The Lakes , Jimmy McGovern is an acute ob­server of the small, quiet mo­ments that re­veal much about peo­ple’s lives.

Such as when Stan ( Jim Broad­bent), in bed with his wife of 46 years, Brenda ( Sue Johnston), leans over to switch off the ra­dio. They ex­change a look that brims with the com­pro­mises, dis­ap­point­ments and barely sup­pressed re­sent­ments of a near half-cen­tury union.

Stan and Brenda are res­i­dents of the Manch­ester street of the ti­tle. Tonight is episode two of six but don’t worry if you missed last week’s as there are flash­backs to bring you up to speed. Stan is about to turn 65, which means he must re­tire from his beloved, 40-year job at a lo­cal ware­house. To make mat­ters worse, he learns that his re­tire­ment sav­ings are worth a pit­tance.

Last week, Stan wit­nessed the event that is cen­tral to the drama: one of the res­i­dents, Peter ( Shaun Doo­ley), ran over one of the neigh­bour­hood chil­dren, Katie. At the time he was hav­ing an af­fair with Katie’s mum, An­gela ( Jane Hor­rocks). ‘‘ I’m hap­pily mar­ried,’’ she tells him. ‘‘ Well, you’re mar­ried,’’ he replies, de­cid­ing the mat­ter.

Katie sur­vives but is par­tially paral­ysed. De­spite Stan’s damn­ing ev­i­dence in court, Peter is ex­on­er­ated. But just when you think Stan is an old dod­derer, he sur­prises you by a ro­bust ex­change with his boss, Steve ( Charles Dale). He de­cides to kill him­self but his rea­sons are more com­plex than he re­alises, or ad­mits, at first.

Doomed af­fair: Shaun Doo­ley and Jane Hor­rocks in

This first se­ries of The Street , which aired in Bri­tain in 2006, won a BAFTA award for best drama se­ries, and Broad­bent won an In­ter­na­tional Emmy Award for best ac­tor. A sec­ond se­ries screened in 2007 and a third is in pre-pro­duc­tion. The cast alone makes it a plea­sure to watch, es­pe­cially old favourites such as Ti­mothy Spall and David Thewlis, who does a Jeremy Irons in se­ries two, play­ing iden­ti­cal twins. Hor­rocks, best known as the daffy char­ac­ter Bub­ble in Ab­so­lutely Fab­u­lous , is a stand­out in a role a uni­verse re­moved from that one.

The Street is not as con­sis­tently out­stand­ing as, say, The Lakes ( both di­rected by David Blair). There are un­even patches — tonight’s lu­natic asy­lum scene is cliched — and oc­ca­sions when the char­ac­ters’ mo­ti­va­tions are a lit­tle thin. Even so, it is high-qual­ity tele­vi­sion, par­tic­u­larly in the per­for­mances, that is sure to keep you watch­ing un­til the end.

Stephen Romei

The Street

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